Stuffed Eggplant: Yes, Please!

I love eggplant, BIGTIME.  If you don’t love it, I’m asking (begging!) you to give it a chance. Repeat after me: LEGUME. Say it with a sexy accent! LE’ GUME! Okay, this is going nowhere…

I have a friend who hated eggplant. As our friendship was budding, I invited her to dinner.  (It’s kind of my thing.)  As always, I inquired whether there were any foods I should avoid making.  “I’m easy,” she claimed. (That’s what she said.) Later I discovered that she hated eggplant (passionately) but thought—”What are the chances she’ll choose to make me THAT?”

Well, the chances were good!  Here’s the happy ending, or actually, the happy beginning: I quickly converted my eggplant-hating friend into an EGGPLANT LOVER!  That’s a good thing because I’m not sure our friendship would have lasted otherwise.  My friend is also the editor of this blog—I’ve actually just paid her, in eggplant. (Amanda Ambrose, put down the fork and take a bow!) That’s her on the right…what a hottie, huh!?

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Eggplant! The following recipe is easy, healthy, beautiful, and delicious– LIKE ME! (No self-esteem issues here.)  It’s perfect for a dinner party or a quiet night at home. You can make it ahead-of-time, and impress your guests with personalized portions and top-notch table appeal.  This stuffed eggplant stands on its own, or pairs well with a side of pasta and sauce.  Let’s get ‘er going!

INGREDIENTS: 
(2) Purple Eggplants
(1) Cup Cubed Feta
(2) Diced Zucchini
(1) Cup Chopped Mushrooms
(1)Diced Onion
(8-10) Chopped Garlic Cloves
(1-2) Cups Tomato Sauce
(2) Cups Baby Spinach
(1) Lb. Ground Spicy Sausage
(1)Cup Diced Tomatoes
Salt/Pepper
Olive Oil

OPTIONAL: bread crumbs, mozzarella, parmesan (and highly recommended)

MODIFICATIONS: Omit dairy or meat for dietary restrictions (Boooorrrriiiing). Swap or add any desired ingredients.

SERVES: 4 Very happy people (Or 2 very hungry people– you choose.)

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EGGPLANT: Preheat oven on 400. Slice horizontally. Drizzle center with olive oil and place FACE DOWN on a parchment covered baking sheet. (Much how I’d like to spend a Saturday night! HA!–I really am a good time!)  Bake for approximately 20 minutes until eggplant is soft in the middle ( <– Got that covered, too.).  Don’t overcook, or you’ll have mush. When you flip them over, this is what you’ll see.  (Ooooooh! Aaaaaah! Applaud.)

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Puuuuuurty!  Let the eggplant cool off a bit before hollowing them out.  Keep the insides for added “stuffing.” (TWSS)

STUFFING: Prepare the filling while the eggplant bakes!

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Sausage (hehe). Cook the sausage in a skillet until golden brown.  Remove sausage. (hehe) In the same pan, saute onions and garlic until wilted.  Add mushrooms, zucchini and a bit of the eggplant guts for a few minutes.  Add tomato and spinach for one minute. Season to taste.  Turn off heat. Add sauce, feta, and cooked sausage. A blessed marriage of all things holy!

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STUFF IT:  Fill hollowed eggplant bowls with vegetable stuffing.  You can top with a little more feta, mozzarella or parmesan cheese if you like. Breadcrumbs are perfect for this dish!

Pop these babies back into the oven for a few minutes, to melt the cheese and crust the crumbs. SQUEAL WITH DELIGHT! Serve alone, or with pasta and sauce.  Garlic bread doesn’t hurt either!  A little (or a lot of) Cabernet, candles (yeah baby), and friends, and you have yourself a special treat!

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Cheers!


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